MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants two members of his Cabinet to "finish their story" at the ongoing Senate probe into government's pandemic transactions.
Duterte earlier this week said his aides must get his clearance before attending the Senate inquiry in which he claimed some lawmakers were "politicking."
"Gusto ko ito sila [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque, pati si [vaccine czar] Secretary [Carlito] Galvez to finish their story. Naumpisahan na e. Kung may maitanong pa sila, they should go back there," he said in a taped meeting with officials that aired on Thursday.
(I want Secretary Duque and Secretary Galvez to finish their story. It has been started. If they still have questions, they should go back there.)
"Pero ‘yong iba (but the others) and in the future, I’m sorry I will be the one who will say, ‘Go to Congress to testify or to the Senate’, or ‘Do not go to Congress,’" Duterte continued.
He told his aides, "Sabihin mo ini-contempt ka, ako ang bahala. I will not allow anybody to arrest you. That is a guarantee."
(If you say you will be cited in contempt, I will take care of it.)
"If that does no sit well with the senators, I’m sorry, you started this whole thing. It was not me," added the President.
Video courtesy of PTV
Senators are looking into the supposed ties of Duterte's former adviser Michael Yang with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., which bagged some P8.6 billion in government contracts, including those related to the supply of supposedly overpriced anti-COVID masks and face shields last year.
The legislative branch, which has separate powers from the executive, is "authorized to make laws, alter, and repeal them through the power vested in the Philippine Congress."
investigations in the Senate and House of Representatives are done in aid of legislation.
Barring aides from attending these probes "is the prerogative of the chief executive," Senate President Vicente Sotto III said this week.
"It's up to him. However, the Senate will exercise our legislative oversight function over government projects and expenditures that we approved," he said in a statement.